I write most of my blog posts while driving my minivan or in the bathtub. Well, I don’t actually write the posts (or text, Oprah!) while I’m driving or when I’m in the bathtub, but that’s where I do my best thinking. Usually by the time I sit down at my computer, all I have to do is type the words that are already in my head. But this post was different. I find that sometimes when I really want to get something just right, I struggle with the flow. The words just won’t fit together the way that I want them to. And I really want to get this one right.
Today is my friend Tanya’s birthday.
I have a package for her sitting beside my front door that I still haven’t mailed. Inside the box, tucked between a couple of other surprises is a Yankee Candle. The minute I smelled it while I was shopping in the home goods section of T.J. Maxx I knew I had to buy one for myself and one for my friend Tanya. The candle smells just like peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks, a drink she introduced to me. And it reminds me of how incredibly blessed I am to consider Tanya my friend.
For two years in a row, Christmas completely overwhelmed me. We spent Christmas 2008 in my dad’s hospital room where he was recovering from his first brain surgery. Christmas 2009 came one month after my dad left for Heaven. That second Christmas seemed even emptier than the year before because at the time, it felt like we’d lost our fight and our hope. I didn’t care about buying Christmas presents, but I have three children who needed Christmas to be as much like Christmas as it could be, considering the circumstances.
Tanya is not a procrastinator or a late-night shopper, but she asked if she could help me do my Christmas shopping. So late one night that stretched into the early hours of the next morning, we took advantage of the extended shopping hours and we checked off my Christmas list, item by item. She was my brain when I just couldn’t think the next thought. Because of her, my kids opened gifts that they actually wanted instead of the cigarette lighters, Mentos, and Slim Jims I would have grabbed from the checkout line offerings in my grief-induced haze. Instead, we fueled up with peppermint hot chocolate at the Target Starbucks and she helped me do something incredibly normal when life seemed anything but.
When you are in the middle of a life crisis, you will always have friends who will ask if they can do anything for you. Tanya is one of those rare friends who doesn’t need to ask, she just does what needs to be done. She can do that because she takes the time to really get to know her friends so she knows what they would need or want. I can not even give you a rough estimate of how many ways Tanya ministered to me during the time my dad was sick and after he died. My kids practically lived at her house for two years. Knowing they were with Tanya and Jeff allowed me to scratch “Worry About the Kids” off my list of things to do because I knew that at that time, they were able to be more to my children than even I was able to be.
Tanya is the kind of person I’d like to be when I grow up. She is so strong in the areas where I feel very weak. She is orderly, calm, and always working in the background. I am….not. When Tanya loves you, she loves you with all of her heart. I am certainly a better person because I know her and because I have been the recipient of her love.
Tanya, I wish I could make the words on this screen match the feelings in my heart. You are precious to me and I cherish our friendship. I know that I haven’t been anywhere near the friend to you that you have been to me. You have prayed for me, loved me, and trusted me with your true self and I am grateful. Some friends are for a season, but I hope that God allows me to have you as a forever friend. (So glad we have that arranged marriage between the kids to look forward to!)
Happy Birthday, sweet friend! I love you muchly.
The last two days have been self-indulgent posts. Most of you don’t know either of these friends, but they’re a very important part of what makes me who I am. If I could sum up the last two posts in a “take away” snippet, I’d want to remind us to be the kind of friends we’d like to have…..To not just ask people in our lives who are hurting what we can do for them but to do what needs to be done….To be a safe place for our friends to fall….And to take the time to make sure the people we love know how very special they are to us.